Research Data Management
The three federal research funding agencies—the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) (the agencies)—have developed a draft Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, which aims to support Canadian research excellence by fostering sound digital data management and data stewardship practices. The policy includes suggested requirements related to institutional data management strategies, researcher data management plans and data deposit.
The draft policy is aligned with the Tri-Agency Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (2014) and the CIHR data deposit requirement in the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications (2015). It builds on the Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management (2016), Capitalizing on Big Data: Toward a Policy Framework for Advancing Digital Scholarship in Canada (2013), and advice received through stakeholder engagement.
The agencies acknowledge that although some services and supports for data management have been created in recent years, there are still significant gaps. Once implemented, the agencies’ policy would:
- support incremental, system-wide changes and capacity building for effective data management within the Canadian research enterprise; and
- recognize the different contexts and capacities for research data management that exist across the country and within disciplinary communities.
Why is Data Management Important?
Research data management supports the effective and responsible conduct of research and increases the ability to store, find and reuse research data. A strong culture of data management will serve Canadian research excellence, support discovery and fuel innovation. It will also benefit Canadian researchers who are working in international partnerships and collaborations, as other funders around the globe are implementing and strengthening their data management requirements.
As such, the agencies are committed to fostering a robust environment for data management in Canada and internationally, and to ensuring that Canadian researchers are well positioned to contribute to and capitalize on data-intensive science and scholarship. To support these commitments, the agencies expect the researchers they fund to manage their research data with the goal of realizing the greatest possible benefits for the research community and Canadian public.
Feedback on the Policy
Following engagement with the research community over the past year, the agencies invite institutions, associations, organizations and individuals to comment on the draft policy and its usefulness in advancing data management practices in Canada. While all feedback is welcome, the agencies are specifically interested in comments on:
- the impact of the suggested requirements (in section 3) for researchers, research communities and research institutions;
- the ability of institutions and researchers to comply with those requirements;
- the extent to which researchers and disciplinary communities are adopting data management best practices, including the use of data management plans;
- the extent to which institutions are developing data management strategies, and what they have learned in doing so; and
- the ideal timeline for implementing the policy.
The agencies also welcome feedback on the implications of this policy for Indigenous research and knowledge sharing.
The agencies have also developed a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) resource that seeks to advance common understandings of “data,” “research data” and “research data management,” provides background on tri-agency research data management policy development, and includes guidance on complying with the proposed requirements and links to supporting resources.
The agencies invite feedback on the FAQs, and specifically welcome comments on:
- the clarity and accuracy of the definitions in section 1;
- the usefulness of the guidance in section 3; and
- whether any additional questions and resources should be included.
The agencies will be accepting feedback on the draft policy until August 31, 2018. Feedback can be sent electronically to any of the following email addresses:
The agencies will review and consider all consultation feedback as they develop the final policy text and implementation timeline. They plan to implement the policy incrementally, as determined through ongoing engagement with the research community and in step with the continuing development of research data practices and capacity in Canada and internationally.
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